PSICORRAGIA, Ruina Y Muerte…El Genesis (2011, Gate of Horror Productions)
Clearly one of those skulls unearthed in an archeological dig, which is one of the most fertile sources for skull covers, but unless you do the digging yourself, don’t you think you should at least give credit to the digger? We’d sure love to see a band wholly dedicate themselves to the skull by going out and unearthing the bony noggin with their own bare hands. That would be impressive. This plundering of National Geographic isn’t fooling anyone.
Psycho-Rage-ia, huh? The name makes you think pizza-n-beer thrash metal, but no, these Peruvians play death/doom seemingly inspired by early Anathema and Clouds-era Tiamat. It’s got violin, electric piano and mandolin, so it clearly goes one instrument too far into the frilly lace ‘n’ growl world that divides great doom/death from the cheesy stuff. This release collects their 1998 demo and 2001 debut album, and if you can get past the horribly played, out of-tune violin that opens up the demo and into the material on the album, you’ll find they improved considerably in those three years. They made a wise decision opening up the collection with the album, because Otono has got to be one of the most feebly-performed demos I’ve ever heard. They could skate by if they were a Sodom-esque sorta band, but when you’re going for ornate gothic/doom/death, you better at least be semi-competent. Purple velvet and red wine doom/death is generally not for me, so if you liked the first Celestial Seaosn album or that one by Enchantment, go for this! The rest of you, stick with early Anathama and early My Dying Bride, because that stuff still has never been bested.
— Friar Wagner
PARAXISM, Paraxism (1992, demo)
With this skull, Paraxism have allowed us to confidently draw a new subset branch on the Skull Cover Motif tree. And this guy, he isn’t too happy about this fate. He looks downright traumatized. This is one of a handful of skulls now officially “Embedded in Rock Wall [popular skull cover motif no. 36].” Nile is one of the memorable ones (Skull75) and we’ve got a couple more coming up soon! So for those rabid Big Dumb Skulls fans who particularly love skulls embedded in rock walls, hang onto the edge of your seats.
Forever underrated and overlooked, Paraxism is probably one of the most interesting bands to come from Finland’s early ’90s death metal wave. And, as many of their countrymen would, the band evolved from cruel brutality to something more rocking by the end of their evolution (a la Xysma, Disgrace and Convulse), all of these bands wisely avoiding sounding too obviously “death ‘n’ roll.” Thank fuck. While Paraxism’s synth-heavy 1995 demo (Selected Works) remains the apex of their output, and their final recording, a demo from 1998, is nearly unlistenable in its angular, dissonant, and cold alt-rock delivery, this first demo finds the band treading more orthodox boards. It’s not totally far away from most other Finnish death metal bands of the time, but there’s something inherently catchy and even semi-melodic in tunes like “Benefical Interdependence” and “The Breath of Plague” that sets it apart. Ultimately this is more than a mere curiosity from a band I’ve always championed (to mostly deaf ears, except for a couple guys in Agalloch who I turned onto this band a long time ago). But it’s not mandatory either, unless you’re a Finnophile looking for another cool tape to set next to your Funebre, Pakeni and Nekro-Torso cassettes. All two of you.
— Friar Wagner